Counterfeit by Kristen Chen
Harper Collins, June 7, 2022
Kristen Chen's newest work prompts us to contemplate the layers and pressures of the model minority myth. Chen juxtaposes two main female characters in ways that challenge our assumptions about education, wealth, race, and motherhood. Ava Wong and Winnie Fang both attend Stanford University. Ava graduates, attends law school, and marries a successful Bay Area surgeon. Winnie Fang, Ava's old roommate, disappears from the university and returns to Ava's life two decades later, carrying the impossibly expensive Hermès Birkin handbag. As their adventure unravels, Winnie and Ava join forces in the counterfeit handbag industry in surprising ways. Chen's work criticizes how we judge one another and shows how appearances rarely match reality. When Winnie Fang states, "All of us fixate on certain kinds of cheating, while willfully ignoring other kinds," we are reminded that in education, as in life, there are few easy, consequential choices. Counterfeit offers a chance to discuss dishonesty, crime, stereotypes, and friendship within the confines of a comical and clever read. Turn to Counterfeit for an engaging and surprising read for your faculty or high school students.